31 May 2024

Stars Align in St Tropez for Iron Dames Dream Win in GCL Ramatuelle

Stars Align in St Tropez for Iron Dames Dream Win in GCL Ramatuelle

Lights off and away we go… GCL Ramatuelle, St Tropez was a race to the finish line with the Cannes Stars powered by Iron Dames jumping to victory as the only team on a clean sheet.

The first women-only jumping team, a pioneering project founded by Deborah Mayer of the Iron Dames, secured their second win of the year as Katrin Eckermann and Kim Emmen shone bright, extending their Championship lead going into their home event next week in Cannes.

In a dramatic second round that saw last year’s GCL Champions, Riesenbeck International powered by Kingsland Equestrian, crumble under the pressure as last to go kept everyone on the edge of their seats. Madrid In Motion duo of Maikel van der Vleuten and Eduardo Alvarez Aznar took back to backstage second places while Stockholm Hearts powered by H&M We Love Horses, Malin Baryard-Johnsson and Jessica Springsteen rounded off the podium after a fierce battle.

Following the team’s Championship lead securing win, Katrin Eckermann smiled as she told GCTV: “We won the first stage in Doha and have been very unlucky since. It is just an amazing feeling to win here with all the supporters from the Iron Dames, and the wider team around us,and I am really enjoying it. In Doha we had different women in our team that won so it shows how strong we are. We are just women in the sport following our dreams and right now I don’t want to ever stop it. ”

Speaking to GCTV, Malin spoke of the importance of inspiring both the current and next generation of show jumping stars. She said,  “To have four women out of six athletes on the podium, it just shows the girl power within the sport!”, “We love that” added fellow teammate, Jessica Springsteen.  

A strategic move clearly paid dividends for current championship contenders, Madrid in Motion, with big changes seen between round one and two. Maikel van der Vleuten explained to GCTV, “We both changed horses between round one and two, so we had four horses today,  they were all good today, they all performed very well and at the end of the day we can be very happy with second place. The winning team was very strong and it was a good competitive class for this stage of the championship.”

Just meters from the glistening waters of the Mediterranean Sea in the iconic French Riviera, fourteen GCL teams took on Grégory Bodo’s challenging yet fair courses over 2 rounds at the sixth stage of the season.

Championship Standings After Stage 6

Cannes Stars powered by Iron Dames: 117 points

Stockholm Hearts powered by H&M We Love Horses: 107 points

Madrid In Motion: 102 points

Doha Falcons: 99 points

Valkenswaard United: 98 points

Nestled in the stunning coastal town of Ramatuelle, the GCL team class unfolded against a picturesque backdrop of golden sands, azure waters, and a gentle breeze carrying excitement in the air. The French Riviera offered an exquisite setting for this unparalleled sporting spectacle, where teams competed fiercely for glory. With the Mediterranean coastline as a backdrop, the atmosphere was truly electric as spectators gathered to witness these exceptional athletes.

With a lively social scene, the GCL of St. Tropez, Ramatuelle was not only a celebration of sport but also a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in the glamour and elegance of the French Riviera lifestyle. Combining fierce competition with family-friendly entertainment, fans enjoyed an unforgettable day filled with thrills and excitement. From heart-stopping moments to nail-biting rounds, everyone was on the edge of their seats.

Round one kicked off in style with both the pathfinding teams posting low fault rounds. A clear from John Whitaker aboard Equine America Unick Du Francport for Valkenswaard United, and Eduardo Periera De Menezes and H5 Kastelle Memo of Mexico Amigos both posted a clear, supporting the teams in a solid fifth and seventh respectively heading in to round 2.

A shock exit from New York Empire powered by Lugano Diamonds who are defending champions of the GCL of Ramatuelle, St. Tropez, following an uncharacteristic fall from Jodie Hall McAteer from Salt’n Pepper, meaning elimination for the team.

Round two saw the 2023 championship winners Riesenbeck International powered by Kingsland Equestrian, and 2024 championship leaders Cannes Stars powered by Iron Dames go head to head in the battle of the best, leaving no room for error, and edge-of-your-seat viewing both here under the southern French sun, and from around the world live on GCTV.

Late in the class with everything potentially on the line, Madrid in Motion took to the arena with Eduardo Alvarez Aznar and Maikel Van Der Vleuten. A remarkable and fast clear from Eduardo Alvarez Aznar but a gut wrenching single time fault from Maikel and O'bailey vh Brouwershof N.O.P. left Madrid in a solid place to push the duo to the top of the leaderboard with three teams left to go on 5 faults in total.

Enter the iconic Malin Baryard-Johnsson with H&M Indiana stepped up for Stockholm Hearts powered by H&M We Love Horses once again delivering the goods. New on the team for this year, Jessica Springsteen and Don Juan van de Donkhoeve rode their hearts out to spot the clock with two time faults leaving the team with.

Two teams to go. Two teams on 0 penalties.

Strategic changes with horses and riders in between Round 1 and Round 2 resulted in an impressive double clear Cannes Stars powered by Iron Dames. Katrin Eckermann and Cala Mandia Nrw held their nerve for a flawless round while the crowd in St. Tropez erupted in cheers as Emmen crossed the finish line on a clean sheet, putting the pressure on the German team.

Last in, reining GCL Champions Riesenbeck International powered by Kingsland Equestrian couldn’t have a fence down if they wanted the win today. Christian Kukuk took to the arena on his fresh horse, Checker 47 but mid way round the cheers of the Cannes Stars team from the warm up echoed around the arena as a fence fell and he handed to win the Iron Dames. Teammate Philipp Weishaupt riding Coby 8 subsequently acquired eight faults ultimately putting the squad in fourth place.

As the sun set in Saint-Tropez, the GCL Championship heats up as it moves along to the second French Riviera destination for 2024, Cannes, where the championship race heads towards it’s mid season climax!  

Join us in Cannes!
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Jan Tops - Founder & President